ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --** As Broncos rookies prepare for their first minicamp this weekend, Denver's established veterans are preparing to help ease the transition.
Perhaps the most tight-knit of a team's position groups, the offensive line offers a unique environment for young faces fresh from college, with the unit organizing weekly events.
"We do stuff together each week and it just makes them feel a little bit more comfortable," Orlando Franklin said Wednesday. "I think it makes it a little bit easier."
That greater level of comfort should be helpful, as Franklin thinks the transition today is tougher than when he entered the league in 2011, in large part thanks to Denver's intricate schemes.
"Our offense is pretty complex," he said. "We run a lot of stuff at the line of scrimmage, so I know it would have been hard for me to come in and play right away in this offense."
Franklin started at right tackle as a rookie with Kyle Orton and later Tim Tebow at quarterback, an offense that leaned heavily on the run late in the season. Franklin said that even in that system, he may not have played much without the guidance of veteran guard Chris Kuper.
"He really took care of everything," Franklin said of Kuper. "There were times where he was making the 'Mike' point and he was telling me what to do and he was still performing at a high level."
With Kuper now retired, Franklin and others will try to help the Broncos' new rookies, including third-round pick Michael Schofield, pick up the complicated offense. The same process will be underway at receiver, where Emmanuel Sanders joins three other veterans in greeting the first-years.
"As a rookie, you're dealing with the playbook," Sanders said Wednesday. "Every guy that's been drafted, at their previous school, they're the man. So of course they're coming into a new environment."
"That's why it's good to have guys to take these guys under their wing and start to show them the ropes."
Second-round pick Cody Latimer will be the biggest rookie addition at that position, and may end up battling Sanders for playing time during training camp. But Sanders didn't exactly bristle when the Broncos added the former Indiana star to an already talented receiving corps. Quite the opposite.
"I like it," said Sanders, who calls Denver "wide receiver heaven." "Whoever wants to come in and put their hands in the pot to help us win a championship, the more the merrier."
"Things happen. Guys get hurt. I've always said you're only as strong as your weakest link. The more guys that we bring here that are about winning, and the better they are physically and mentally, the better we are as a team."
Veterans and rookies will be on the field together for the first time when Denver convenes for OTAs in late May.